The cover art, the spongy paperback format with the proportions of a brick, the blurbs, the title all announce that this "towering epic of intergalactic war" has no subtlety of character whatsoever. It has more subtlety than Snobs, even though Snobs is about an existing society, is written by a member of it, and confines itself to plausible people and events.
Dread Empire has a lot of unsubtle entertainment, and spreads over many pages, but the human events -- the only ones that were not predictable at the beginning of the trilogy -- are not far from Phineas Finn &ff. Say, ...Finn with the addition of the few cheerful parts of A Farewell to Arms, set in a universe borrowed from. Lots of time is spent on invented space tactics that depend on imaginary science, and descriptions of fancy dinners and cute aliens; there's a murder mystery with no relation to the putative military plot; we get the id-pleasure of identifying with the protagonists as they blow things up and prove their superiors wrong. It's definitely fluff. And yet, the thread holding together the two main streams of plot is one Fellowes and Trollope used; how an entrenched class system co-opts most of its attackers and sloughs off the rest.
The character who seems most heroic to me, the genius who fights her way out of the gutter, passes as an aristocrat, and builds a successful resistance on a conquered planet, gets the least regard in the bells-and-banners triumph at the end of the plot. Perhaps this is historically obvious; museums have told me that, say, French Resistance fighters were rather an embarrassment to France until they were safely very old. Certainly she couldn't get all the prizes without making the story as frivolous as it pretends to be. But what happens to her? She walks offstage; to what? To be a philosopher, or a prophet, or a conqueror, or a hermit?
Worldcat/Find in a Library: Dread Empires' Fall: Conventions of WarSo wrote clew in SF&F.